Series Title: Robin Hood (IMDb)
Episode: 1.1 “Will You Tolerate This?”
Original Air Date: October 7, 2006
Length: 45 minutes
Director: John McKay
Writer: Dominic Minghella
Lead Actors: Jonas Armstrong (Robin), Sam Troughton (Much), Richard Armitage (Guy of Gisborne), Keith Allen (Sheriff of Nottingham), Lucy Griffiths (Marian)
Content Advisory: Very light PG-13 stuff; goofy action, some suggestive dialogue
Spoiler-free Synopsis: “Robin returns home from The Crusades and discovers the oppression of the new Sheriff of Nottingham. He sees Marian again, to whom he had been betrothed before he chose to leave for the Crusades.”
Reason for Watching: My cousin lent me Season 1 so I decided to give it a go.
Episode Re-watchability: Minor, I suppose. It’s fast-paced and reasonably fun, though not particularly clever.
Recommendation: Fun episode that makes clear that you should not take this show seriously. Not brilliant, but fairly well-made and fun.
When the title zoomed onscreen to the exaggerated sound of arrows hitting a target, I realized just how proudly the BBC’s Robin Hood wears its camp on its Lincoln-green sleeves. This realization prepared me so I could laugh when, in later instances, Robin shows off his “Saracen” recurved bow (actually a modernized version of a Hun bow, but nevermind), fires two arrows at once to split some hangman’s ropes (a modest homage to Carey Elwes, perhaps?), and gets saved by a pointy hairpin thrown with deadly precision at a range of many yards by Marian. Historical accuracy and realistic physics are thus ignored, and I have no great hopes for the legend being strictly adhered to either.
The actors all seem capable and possessing of comedic talent, although I notice that not only are all the male heroes young (which makes sense for Robin and his outlaws), but they all seem to have the same lean, rather short body build. This, combined with their acting styles, makes them all seem like rowdy college boys rather than young men who are trying to find their place in the world.
Robin himself is good enough. He’s a bit more serious than his mates, but not without a roguish side or a touch of emotional depth. Much (in other versions called “the Miller”) is the comic relief, filling, at this point at least, the role of Robin’s best friend and former manservant during the Crusades. Allan A Dale looks like he’ll be a fun rogue when he joins the group proper, and Will Scarlet, while young and idolizing Robin, has a chance of developing a measure of maturity, if the writers so decide.
At this stage, I’m not too thrilled about Marian. She’s cold and haughty towards Robin, despite apparently being his childhood crush, and despite him clearly being a pretty cool and morally upright person who doesn’t think twice about standing up to corrupt and powerful officials for the good of his own people. She does save Robin’s life with the above-mentioned hairpin-dart, but otherwise is an annoyance for her self-perceived and nonexistent superiority.
On the villain’s side, we have a typical, but not unwelcome, campy, beard-stroking, evil-chuckling Sheriff of Nottingham, but the real standout is Guy of Gisborne. He has been managing Robin’s lands while the hero is away on the Crusades, and has been managing them at the behest of the Sheriff, oppressing and over-taxing the people as medieval villains do. But when Robin returns to assume control of Locksley, Gisborne acknowledges Robin’s lordship and backs out. Not happily, mind you, but he does, despite having a troop of armed men nearby. The evil Sheriff quite naturally berates him for letting go of the lands so easily, but Gisborne seems reluctant to so flagrantly break the laws protecting a noble’s rights to his own land. Even if that noble is an annoying do-gooder who can’t keep his mouth shut like Robin. Whether this comes from respect for the law, for noble status, or from cowardice, I do not yet know, but I am intrigued at the possibility that a shadow of integrity lies within Gisborne’s grim, brutal façade.
What little I had heard about this series had not enticed me to give it a chance, but now that I’ve seen Episode 1 I think I can have some fun with it, at least for awhile.